Well, John Koonz asked for it. Giving me an opportunity to ramble on is a mistake few stay awake long enough to regret. Welcome to my stream of consciousness; in the event of an emergency, your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device.
First off, I went to 6th Street for Halloween with the express goal of pissing off the stupid xians who have nothing better to do than try to ruin a perfectly good party. This year's pair was particularly vile. Both wore sandwich boards: one plastered with a list of "sins" (among them adultery, homosexuality, masturbation—fascinating how an omni-omni-omni deity can be so fascinated with penises), the other with a quote from what I refer to as "that book:" "The wages of sin is death," with the letters A I D S picked out in red capitals.
I'm sure you've heard all the rhetoric before, but there are a few high points I want to touch on. When asked why he was preaching such hatred, the more vocal one replied, "Because the BIBLE preaches hate!!" When I asked one (whom I mentally referred to as "Twerp") a question, he habitually opened his bible to find the answer. So I asked whether a cogent thought could actually be produced in his head without recourse to that book (not that any were being produced WITH the book), to which his reply was a rather undignified splutter. Later, Twerp told me that he was having trouble maintaining eye contact with me, claiming that my makeup was unsettling him. When I asked what was so frightening about gold glitter, he stuttered for a few moments and finally said that it was really my STARE that was bothering him. He claimed I was staring at him too much. Naturally, my reply was, "It says something to me about a man's character when he can't look me in the eye." He puffed out his chest a bit and met my gaze for all of three seconds before weaselly glancing away.
Enough of Halloween. I don't know if this edition of The Atheist will be out in time, but I would like to announce a debate sponsored by the University Skeptical Society on "The Evidence For and Against the Existence of God." The debate will be on November 20 at 7 PM on campus (in Welch 2.224). The public is invited to attend, and I would encourage any ACA member to come support us Skeptics. Our opponents for the debate will be headed by Robert Koonz (UT philosophy prof) of the Faculty/Student/Staff Christian Fellowship.
Dr. Koonz has discovered the Anthropic Principle (more below on AP) and has been braying about it around campus incessantly. The xians are sure to be there in force (Koonz is rather popular despite being a total scumbag—he has been shamelessly promoting his paper on the AP without submitting it for any sort of peer review), so we need your support.
The Anthropic Principle in a Nutshell: I don't know if this has been covered before, so I'll throw it out. The AP rests on the fact that the physical universe we live in is characterized by a number of "constants"—among them, Newton's gravitational constant G, the magnitudes of the nuclear forces, and the speed of light, to name a few. AP creationist proponents take these coincidental numbers and run with them. They claim that these constants are fine-tuned by a Creator (invariably the one they happen to worship) and that any minute variations in these constants would prevent life from existing.
Problems with the AP: Where to begin? First of all, there could easily be non-supernatural circumstances at work that make the universal constants what they are; maybe we just haven't discovered them yet. The AP assumes that all possible values of a constant are equally probable; this assumption is unfounded. It's also difficult to know for sure that changes in the constants would prevent life from forming—maybe life would still exist, just not as US. The AP's case for the existence of any old generic universal creator is extremely shaky, but the extremes to which its proponents are so eager to push it (i.e., a proof of a specifically christian god) are simply ludicrous.
Essentially, the AP is merely a glorification of the old "we're here, so somebody must have created us" argument—bigger words hiding the same small idea. It's also a good example of the God of the Gaps fallacy: just because we don't understand exactly why something happened, there is no obligation to stick a god in there to explain it.